Saturday, June 21st, 2008
The late afternoon of Tuesday June 17, 2008 found our Picton Castle with strong and building winds and seas astern and making good way in squalls and rain into the small bay of Baltimore, Ireland. Weather reports of building gales and rising seas in the waters along the south coast of Ireland had us headed in to get anchored. When we crossed the continental shelf and the ocean became much shallower (100 meters instead of a thousand) the seas become a good bit more lumpy. The seas and skies looked just like those old-tyme oil paintings. The ship was designed for these conditions but it did seem that now it was time to put in.
Captain Jan Miles of the topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore II has put in to Baltimore several times in his vessel and had told me that this was a great port for a sailing ship and her crew. We were going to find out. With Lynsey at the wheel, Nobby at the engine controls, the Mate at the anchor and all hands at sail handling stations and lead-line we sailed through the narrow entrance (80 meters) and dropped the hook in about 22 feet of water with good holding and the passage was done. It had been a classic transatlantic passage almost entirely under sail. In 24 days we sailed over 2,800 miles from Lunenburg. Mostly great sailing, we had had calms, near gales, always a fair wind and all great passage making. We were cold wet and tired and it was about 9:30PM local time when we got the stiff wet canvas sails stowed, anchor light rigged and yards braced so we waited for the next day to go ashore and clear in with customs at the Harbour Master’s office on the wharf.
The next day came in rainy and windy but we launched the skiff to find out what Baltimore, Ireland was like. We found out that this a pretty sweet, beautiful place with heaps of interesting history. We would get glimmerings of a massive pirate history; corsairs, kidnapping and the sacking of Baltimore on June 20, 1631 when most of the inhabitants of this village were captured and taken off to slavery in Algeria. And much later part of that history includes Picton Castle having been here before in somewhat dire straights.